Tegan Matthews, Morris Donaldson Scholarship Recipient, 2016

Tegan Matthews

“A lifelong love of reading, and a desire to be surrounded by like-minded people” brought Tegan to study English and Creative Writing at VIU. In her course work, Tegan continues to pursue a blend of classic and contemporary writing.

“As I progress through my degree, I am being drawn to teaching, and each year I find that I am more excited than the last, whether I am learning about new developments in scholarship, or finally reading works by classic writers like Shakespeare, Keats, or Joyce.”

Tegan’s decision to enrol in the Honours English Degree was motivated by her desire to see just how far she could push her writing and thinking, with the aim of moving into graduate school. Tegan’s honours project will engage a blend of critical theory and contemporary literature from the Middle East. Anchored by theories of mimesis, mimetic violence, and the sublime, Tegan plans to explore some of the complexities of representing communities in the face of ongoing suffering. Literature, she believes, can help us to become more compassionate and connected—especially in times of crisis.

Talking to Tegan, it takes little time to feel her palpable enthusiasm for the work she’s been doing at VIU, and for the restorative potential that literature can offer. To wonderful effect, Tegan’s writing keeps coming back to the importance of empathy:

“Reading and writing have always lent an irreplaceable richness to my life. I have been able to understand that I am connected to others who have perhaps gone through similar trials, I have been able to escape for a little while into new worlds, and I have been able to put my empathy to good use by imagining myself in the shoes of characters whose experiences have been enormously different than my own. My writing has allowed me to make larger connections in what I believe and to work out problems I am having at different moments in my life. It has been an outlet for things I am going through, and it has helped me to feel as though I am part of a larger conversation with the literature and authors who inspire my papers and creative pieces.”

Here’s Tegan’s list of “top three” texts everyone should read:

  • Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse
  • Anne Marie MacDonal’s Fall on Your Knees
  • Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day 

If you see her on campus, stop and ask her to explain why…

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